Paper Circuits

Posted: December 18, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

So, I’ve been thinking about paper circuitry recently.

A colleague shared a post from Instructables called”Conductive Poetry”.

I adapted the idea to poetry with my circuit scribe. I wanted to be able to pull out words and change the poem–to play with the language. I started with Billy Collins’ poem Introduction to Poetry which I always read with my class. Personally, I find that it makes for a good starting poem, takes a not too serious attitude, and has some great imagery. Plus, it then gives me a reason to show some of the short films that were made of some other Billy Collins poems. Three videos are in his TED talk. Really great stuff in my opinion.

Back to my take on conductive poetry. First I wrote a number of lines, but that was too much for the current to get around. I settled on a line or so with interchangeable nouns. I made a little cover for the lights with images on them, just like the Instructables example. Here’s a prototype.

keep a poem light

This line is keep a poem in your pocket from the poem of the same name by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers. I changed it to keep a lightbulb in your toolbox. I have some other examples, but this gives you the idea.

I thought this would be a fun way to play with language. Physically moving the words in and out of the sentences and phrases appeals to me, and I think helps make poetry seem less like a rarified persuit and more like a building trade. This might not be completely accurate, but it is interesting to consider, plus is fits nicely with Billy Collins’ poem.

I have yet to do anything with this in class, but I’m planning. Since we will be working on some poetry when winter break is over, I’ve got time to let the idea roll around in my head. I think it’s got some potential. Having a few light colors for options and being able to draw different images for the words injects a little visual literacy into the situation without getting as involved as movie making. When you are the poet laureate you get movies made of your work. When you are a random English teacher and Ed Tech coach you make your own little circuits and feel pretty pleased with yourself.

Another reason this visual connection is at the front of my brain at the moment is that the 12/1/14 #EngChat was on the topic of visual literacy (archive here). I have some other plans for incorporating visual analysis as a bridge to literary analysis also, but no electronics there. All of these idea are really coming together nicely, yes?

Finally, I’ve been obsessed with Chibitronics, Hack Your Notebook, and related projects lately. I made this little notebook with a light up cover.

I really had no idea for this relates to poetry or English class, but maybe I will make this little notebook a place for great phrases and sentences that we find as we read poetry in class. Although I am often in favor of a digital storage space for collaborative collections, I think there is something to having a special place for special work or words. I am thinking this out as I type and wondering about having a shared, digital collection place to start off with and then using my little light up notebook as a final tangible “best of” collection.


  1. This is really cool. I wasn’t familiar with any of this stuff. Thanks for sharing.

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